Recently, Word Horde Social Media Manager Sean M. Thompson sat down with Orrin Grey to ask him a few questions about Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts…
What made you decide to join Ross and the Word Horde?
Was there ever a decision here? Seriously, I had already worked with Ross a few times, on The Book of Cthulhu 2 and Tales of Jack the Ripper and so on, and I knew that he was a great editor and a blast to work with, so when it came time to start shopping around my second collection, Ross was my very first choice. Word Horde is, quite simply, one of my favorite publishers working right now, they’re putting out dynamite weird fiction, and they promote their books like rock stars. Who wouldn’t want to join the Horde?
If you could be any kind of monsters, what kind would you be?
Oh man, most of my favorite monsters (fungus people, monstrous puppets, graboids, C.H.U.D.s) aren’t necessarily anything I’d actually want to be. So for this I think I’d have to go with a Jack Kirby monster; something big and lumpy and lantern-eyed that talked about myself in the third person.
What do you think the role of genre is in fiction?
I think genre wears a lot of hats, depending on how the writer wants to engage with it. How’s that for a non-answer? For me, genre is a collection of traditions and tropes, a sandbox that I play in, a set of expectations that I can either use as shorthand or subvert, as needed. Genre is what gets me interested, and keeps me coming back. I like writing—I must, I freelance for a living, and a lot of that involves writing about plumbing or siding or deburring machines or other less-than-spooky topics—but at the end of the day, it’s genre that keeps me in love with what I do. In the immortal words of Guillermo del Toro: “If there isn’t a monster on the call sheet, I don’t show up for work.”
Is it tough buying clothes that fit, as you are in fact a skeleton?
I find that a nice suit and tie gives me that dapper look that you’ll find among all the very best skeletons. That said, I’ve got a human disguise that I wear when I make public appearances and things, so as to avoid the paparazzi. You know how it is.
You seem to be a big movie fan? What movies have you seen recently that have knocked your socks off?
I’m a huge movie fan, though I’ll have to admit that this year so far has been a little lean on movies—either new or new-to-me—that really knocked my socks off. Plenty of good stuff, but not many new favorites. I am a big fan of the Insidious franchise, though, and the last thing I saw that came very close to knocking my socks off may well have been Insidious: Chapter 3, which I think continued the series admirably. I also saw some really good, recent stuff for the first time earlier in the year, including The Guest, Nightcrawler, Resolution, The Taking of Deborah Logan, and The Canal, to name a few. The Canal and Deborah Logan, in particular, I have not seen nearly enough people talking about.
What do you think the goal of horror fiction should be?
I’m not big on telling anybody what their goal should be, so I don’t know the answer to this one, but I can tell you what the goal of most of my horror fiction usually is: I just want to have fun, and I want the reader to have fun, too. Don’t get me wrong, I love thoughtful, meditative horror as much as anyone, stories that stick with you, that carry a hefty thematic weight and leave you thinking, and I hope that my stuff manages that at least some of the time. But most of my favorite horror stories also have something of the spook house in them. Something of the carnival barker challenging you to “Step right up!” It’s why House on Haunted Hill sits right alongside The Haunting in my personal pantheon, and always will.
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